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California redwoods stand tall in Wilson

Posted August 2, 2013

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— Among all the different trees in downtown Wilson, the real California coast redwoods really stand out.

What are they doing in eastern North Carolina?

Wilson resident Woody Harrison knows.

“My grandfather in 1942 decided for some reason to experiment with redwoods,” he said.

Harrison’s grandfather got a few redwoods from a Norfolk, Va., nursery, and they thrived. Over the years, more people added redwoods to their yards in Wilson.

“Several people have learned how to root them and have grown them,” Harrison said.

Forester Bob Mazur remembers when someone showed him the redwoods of Wilson 25 years ago.

“I would have expected a sickly looking sapling,” he said. “But these are like the originals out in California. Not quite as big.”

But they’re certainly not small. Harrison has one in his backyard that’s 100 feet tall.

Mazur says the redwoods grow so well in Wilson because the region’s soil is similar to the tree’s native habitat. But California redwoods usually can't stand the heat.

“For some reason, our redwoods can take the intense heat in the summer,” Mazur said. “I believe it's because of our abundant rainfall.”

Insects and disease don't threaten the redwoods, but they do face one danger. “Once it gets into the 120-foot category, it's going to be susceptible to lightning,” Mazur said.

However, redwoods don't burn easily, so the sky may be the limit for the trees.

“What's the prognosis for this tree?” Mazur said, showing of a tall beauty. “This tree is going to be here for another thousand or 2,000 years.”

Harrison says it's something Wilson can be proud of.

“I was touring one of those homes in Charleston (S.C.), and there was a redwood down there. And it had a sign that said, 'Only redwood east of the Mississippi,” he said. “Nah, I don't think so.”


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  • ornamentals Aug 2, 2013

    There are two 80 foot redwoods in Raleigh and one about as large in Chapel Hill.

  • wasone Aug 2, 2013

    Good for Woody, I would love to plant some myself! Where can I find them?